Thursday, April 23, 2015

GEEKSPEAK U: The Konami SCC

The Konami SCC add-on chip in most Konami games for the MSX is EXCEEDINGLY comparable to the HuC6280 in the PC Engine / Turbografx16. They're both wavetable synthesis (among the few, the proud). And just as the YM2610 (OPNA used in the NEC PC88 / PC98) is the closest thing to the Sega Genesis outside the Sega Genesis (only a little better in every way), the SCC is the closest thing to the PC Engine/Turbografx16 outside the PCE/TG16 (only, better in some ways and worse in some ways).

SCC has higher bit-rate wavetable (8-bit instead of 5-bit), so the individual voices are a little bit cleaner and more nuanced, but it couldn't sample (PCE can sample on any channel), could only use four distinct wave shapes at once over five channels (where PCE could use six wave shapes at once over six channels). It also had to rely on the MSX's built-in AY-3-8910 PSG for the percussion (white noise), where any percussion, be that sampled, wavetable, white noise, or any combination thereof are all done on-chip on the PCE.

Which chip is better overall is debatable (though most people, myself included would probably give a slight edge to the PCE/TG16). THIS soundtrack though, is not only probably the best argument to the contrary, but is just a TOTALLY KILLER soundtrack qua music!

I hope you'll enjoy it!

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake - MSX (SCC)


To give you a better taste of the SCC vs the PCE, I will include both the SCC and PCE versions of both Nemesis (Gradius), and its sequel Salamander (Life Force). Note the SCC's cleaner, more nuanced "rounder" sounding individual voices (as opposed to the slighter rougher, buzzier voices on the PCE)...but also notice the presence of nice ADPCM sampled percussion on the PCE versions, vs the very NES sounding AY-3-8910 PSG percussion on the MSX...

...but for as different as they are, I'm sure you'll agree they are FAAAAAR more the same then they are different!

Let me know in the comments which chip's sound you like better overall.

Nemesis (Gradius) - MSX SCC version:



Nemesis (Gradius) - PCE version:


p.s. what do you think of the PCE Wavetable version of the Konami jingle as the beginning of this video vs the more famous Genesis FM and the SNES ADPCM versions? I personally like the PCE version the best of the three! What say you?

Salamander (Life Force) - MSX SCC version:


p.s. the MSX version features a few tracks that are not in the PCE version - such as Operation Seedleek, Prophet Fire, and Odysseus. While these may well be the best tracks in the game, keep in mind they're not canon, and make your version comparison accordingly.

I could not a full OST video for the PCE version, but the whole thing is available as a playlist. However, since I haven't found a way for Blogspot to play nice with playlists, I'm including just the url. Please open in a different window and listen.

Here's the PC Engine version (playlist).

I think these videos make the point of the comparison, but just in the name of beating the comparison to death, Let me leave you with just one track from Snatcher "Endless Pursuer" - MSX SCC vs PC Engine. The MSX video is much louder, but that's the quality of the video, and no reflection on the versions themselves. Please factor that difference out.

Here's the MSX version:


And here's the PC Engine version (which incidentally, at the time of this posting is my cell phone ringtone) :


So, what's your verdict on MSX SCC vs PCE? The comments section is open. DISCUSS!

3 comments:

  1. I like the comparison you did between these two machines, but since MSX is a computer and has more memory I think SCC musics are better than HuC6280 ones, and Konami seems to have a special care about MSX computer, so for me the winner is MSX SCC...

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    Replies
    1. Hey Fernando! Thanks for the reply!

      The whole reason that this comparison is so interesting to me is that it's one of those magic "paper thin grand canyon" moments where they're so the same, yet so different....and yet...so different and yet so the same. Compound that with the fact that it's not a one-sided contest, but that there are pros and cons to both, and it makes it among the most interesting comparisons in VG for me!

      As I believe I said in the post, if I had to pick one as just a stand-alone chip (like just the one chip all by itself), I still think I'd choose HuC because of its extra wave channel, its ability for all six channels to operate independently, and its ability to also perform conventional ADPCM sampling. For these reasons, I still believe the HuC is the better all-around chip.

      That said, I think the actual Wavetable itself is better on SCC. So if I were looking at one of these to pair with another chip, say, the YM2610, I'd absolutely choose SCC over HuC. No question!

      At the end of the day, though, they both had amazing music, and again, they are far more similar than they are dissimilar.

      I don't know if you subscribe to the podcast or not, but if you don't, you might check out Episode 18 (FaceOff Friday - vol 1). It's a longer episode, but it's all a big collection of various this-version-vs-that-version "Face Offs", and I do put in a couple where you hear SCC vs HuC, as well as other "HuC vs the World" tracks. You might like it! :-D

      Cheers!

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  2. NOTICE TO ALL READERS: There is a user who goes by the name "samee446", who keeps leaving spam comments. I will try to find a way to ban him or her (or it, if it's a bot).

    In the meanwhile, as I get notifications that this user has posted, I'll try to get right on and delete them. But I will ask you guys not to click this user's links! Treat them with the utmost suspicion!

    Okay, now, game on!! :-D

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